Have a plan. Have a mindset, and above all, refuse to be a victim.
That was the message that Bel Air Police Department officers Nick Rhodes and Logan Walsh emphasized again and again Tuesday while taking 10 staff members from Springboard Community Services through active assailant training.
The group first met in the police department community room, where Rhodes and Walsh demonstrated lifesaving techniques such as applying a tourniquet to stop a person from bleeding to death.
Rhodes, an Officer First Class, also serves in the military, a nine-year member of the Marine Corps Reserves, plus he is certified as an active shooter response trainer through the ALERRT Center at Texas State University.
He showed the group how to apply a CAT, or Combat Application Tourniquet, made by North American Rescue – the device is the Official Tourniquet of the U.S. Army, according to the company website.
Rhodes, along with Walsh – also an Officer First Class – noted that improvised tourniquets also can be made out things that are available, such as strips of cloth, belts or purse straps that can be wrapped around a bleeding limb, plus rigid items such as rulers or screwdrivers used to twist the strap tight to stop the bleeding.
The tourniquet must be tight enough to compress a person’s veins and arteries against their bones, plus it needs to be twisted and locked into place – Rhodes himself fashioned a tourniquet on his leg with a strip of cloth and screwdriver, and he locked it in place with his police handcuffs.
“Everything’s a weapon, but everything can also be used to save your life,” Rhodes said.
Walsh, who also is a self-defense and physical fitness instructor, said that many improvised tourniquets were created by people working to help those injured in a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas in 2017.
“The possibilities are pretty much endless,” Walsh said.
The Las Vegas mass shooting, the deadliest in U.S. history with close to 60 people killed, was one of many real-world examples of mass shootings Rhodes and Walsh referenced during the training session.
Rhodes urged the group to regularly practice lifesaving skills to the point that they become instinctual in case of an actual emergency – take the several minutes they would normally spend scrolling through social media and practice applying a tourniquet instead.
He also recommended people keep a first aid kit with them at all times in case there is a need to care for a person in distress. Rhodes held up the IFAK – Individual First Aid Kit – he carries even when off duty.
“You never know the time and place [of an emergency],” he said.
The group shifted from the Police Department to Springboard’s offices on East Gordon Street. Springboard, which is headquartered in Baltimore, provides counseling and case management services at its Harford County location in Bel Air.
Police encouraged staffers to go about their normal business, working in their offices or at the reception desk, as they ran through several active shooter scenarios. Walsh portrayed the shooter, carrying a bright blue replica long gun, while Rhodes observed how staff members responded, based on the classroom training they received earlier in the session.
Some staffers shut their doors and hid under their desks, others grabbed anything they could use as a weapon, such as a kitchen knife, hammer, even a spray bottle of air freshener. The workers also were drilled on putting tourniquets on injured colleagues.
The officers stressed that how people respond to an active shooter depends on their situation at the moment of the attack – the reaction would be different whether the staff is in their offices or gathered together in a conference room, as well as whether the attacker is someone from outside the organization or a person they know and work with.
Whether someone decides to run from the shooter, hide or fight back, they should “commit to it” and not second-guess themselves later, Walsh told the staffers.
“The key is, when it does happen, just do something,” he said.
The Bel Air Police Department provides active assailant training sessions free of charge. The session Tuesday with Springboard was the first time the department has held such a session with civilians.
Anyone who wants to set up a training session for their business or organization can contact Kimberly Blanton of the BAPD at email@example.com. Then either Rhodes or Walsh will reach out to the interested party to coordinate the training, which lasts at least four hours.
Olivia Woodward, director of client services for Springboard’s Bel Air location, said her office contacted the Bel Air Police because all of Springboard’s locations in Maryland are going through active shooter training.
The Bel Air office has security measures in place, but the training brought attention to additional measures the staff can take. Woodward said the training is useful not just for the workplace, but “it’s beneficial for life in general,” so people can plan for emergencies in their personal lives, too.
“It’s not something that’s in the forefront of your brain most of the time, but it’s definitely good to think about,” she said.
Contact Media and Public Relations Specialist David Anderson at 410-688-3020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.